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College World Series: Nathan Bannister leaves with injury, but Arizona beats Oklahoma State 9-3

Arizona+pitcher+Nathan+Bannister+%2835%29+pitches+against+Oklahoma+State+at+the+College+World+Series+in+Omaha%2C+Nebraska+on+Friday%2C+June+24.
Devin Wilber

Arizona pitcher Nathan Bannister (35) pitches against Oklahoma State at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, June 24.

OMAHA, Nebraska — Arizona baseball overcame an early inning injury to starter Nathan Bannister to defeat Oklahoma State 9-3 at the College World Series on Friday. The Wildcats staved off elimination and they’ll face off against the Cowboys Saturday with the winner heading to the championship series. 

The Wildcats got on the board early with a first inning RBI single by JJ Matijevic. In the top of the second, a Louis Boyd RBI double and an RBI single by Zach Gibbons pushed Arizona’s lead to 3-0. 

Bannister looked characteristically sharp through 2 2/3 innings, keeping the Cowboys off the base-paths. After Bannister walked OSU’s No. 9 batter, he displayed discomfort in his pitching arm, bringing out a trainer and head coach Jay Johnson. 

Bannister tossed a few warmup pitches before deciding to end his day at 47 pitches, and he was relieved by Kevin Ginkel. After the game, Bannister said he was pulled for precautionary reasons.

“I just came out precautionary,” Bannister said citing pain in his forearm. “A little tightness and it just didn’t feel right and so I thought giving the ball up would be the better option.”

Johnson said Bannister’s warmup pitches didn’t look anything different from his usual throws.

“That was very encouraging sign,” Johnson said. “We’ll get him checked out further, but I’m very optimistic about it.” 

Arizona added another run in the fourth with a sacrifice fly, moving the score to 4-0. 

However, the Cowboys got on board in the bottom of the inning when designated hitter Conor Costello hit an RBI triple. On the next pitch, Ginkel threw a ball that hit feet in front of the plate before bouncing to the backstop. 

The wild pitch scored Costello, making it 4-2 Arizona. 

After a scoreless top of the fifth, Cameron Ming replaced Ginkel in the bottom of the frame. 

Ming, who recorded the save in Arizona’s 3-0 win over UC-Santa Barbara on Wednesday, was nearly untouchable Friday, pitching four perfect frames before allowing a leadoff walk in the ninth. 

“When [Bannister] came out of the game, I wanted to give him and our team the best,” Ming said.

Arizona added to its lead in the eighth inning when, with the bases loaded and two outs, Zach Gibbons hit a grounder to second base. Oklahoma State second baseman J.R. Davis’ throw to first was off line, allowing a run to score and keeping the bases loaded.

Ryan Aguilar then hit an RBI single to left to bring the score to 6-2. Bobby Dalbec flied out to end the inning. 

Arizona added on three runs in the ninth inning for good measure. 

Matijevic doubled to start the inning, followed by a single from Justin Behnke. 

Jared Oliva drove in Matijevic with an RBI single. Next to the plate was Cesar Salazar, who put down a bunt to the third base side. An errant throw sent the ball into the outfield, allowing Behnke to score. 

Cody Ramer hit a sacrifice fly later in the inning to score Oliva. 

The Wildcats totaled 14 hits on the day, three more than the offense combined for in the team’s previous two games this week. 

“The first time we faced [Oklahoma State] we were swinging at the first pitch,” Gibbons said. “Today during [batting practice] we were just working on middle of the field. You can’t really go wrong if you’re driving the ball middle of the field, so I definitely think it was getting our pitch.” 

In the bottom of the ninth, Oklahoma State scored on a two-out RBI double before Ming finished the game with a fly-out to center.

The Wildcats will face Oklahoma State for a third time Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for noon. 


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